Spring break promises busy airports, and a concern for travel delays

Spring break is coming for a lot of families, and the airline industry is expecting packed planes in the coming weeks. 

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With so many people flying, there are concerns that the extra demand could bring a repeat of travel troubles last seen during the holidays. 

While bad weather is an unpredictable factor, that wasn't the only problem that stranded travelers coast-to-coast, and there hasn't been much time to fix what may have been broken. 

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Before spring-breakers pack up, and leave travelers to have little trouble checking in for departing flights, from Hobby Airport. 

The schedule shows planes coming, and going, on time. In a matter of days, however, it will be a much busier place, and there are mixed feelings about what's to come. 

"I just hope that Southwest flies on time," says one woman on her way home to Florida. "That would make me happy." 

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"Traveling puts a little extra stress on it," offers a frequent traveler. "Be prepared for it. Wake up early, do your job, and be happy with it." 

Houston air travel expert Janine Iannarelli thinks many of the pieces remain in place for a repeat of the dramatic travel slowdowns, from the holidays. 

"I really don't see any change, thus far, in regards to operations. I mean, what could have changed within three months?" she said.

Southwest Airlines saw the brunt of trouble in December with outdated scheduling software that will take time to re-write. Then, there are more people on fewer flights, as airlines are still rebuilding capacity that was cut during the pandemic. 

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The industry trade group Airlines for America projects this year to be air travel’s busiest ever, with 158.4 million passengers, 2.6 million each day, expected to fly. 

"Aircraft returning to service requires a period of time to go through an inspection, in order to certify the aircraft as 'airworthy'," warns Iannarelli. "Same thing with flight crews (who) have to go back through current training, in order to bring them online, to safely pilot the aircraft. All of that takes time." 


Additionally, she says some estimates suggest it will be 2025 before capacity is fully rebuilt. There are some things you can do to prepare for potential travel slowdowns:

  • Book non-stop travel, when possible, to avoid connections that can slow you down.
  • Earlier flights can provide some wiggle room to re-book a later flight if there's a cancelation.
  • Travel insurance can be a good idea if you've paid a lot for nonrefundable travel.
  • Know what your carrier's plans are, for cancelations and delays. Each is different and politely ask for those accommodations, if you're eligible.

The Department of Transportation has a Delay & Cancellation dashboard that details what each airline provides, which you can find on their website.